We learned a few interesting things from President Barack Obama's rambling, analogy-filled news conference Thursday.
We learned that there was a fumble. We learned that technology is hard. In fact, the president went on for an extended period of time explaining government's historical struggles with IT issues. Considering that the entire backbone of the law is dependent on this technology and expertise, how can anyone truly believe that the Nov. 30 deadline set for HealthCare.gov to work properly is going to be met? And why should anyone trust that IT will work better in the future?
We also learned, despite this traditional technology deficit, the president was not "informed directly" about the challenges facing the website, because he would never be "stupid enough to say this is going to be as easy as shopping around on Amazon or Travelocity."
We learned that buying insurance is complex business—more complex even than buying an airline ticket. It's not "like buying a song on iTunes," the president said. It's "a much more complicated transaction." But one of the selling points of Obamacare exchanges was that they would simplify the process. Exchanges were supposed to offer consumers no-hassle, straightforward choices.
And least surprising of all, we learned that insurance companies are about to be scapegoated for the entire mess. According to The Associated Press: "Insurance companies will be required to inform consumers who want to keep canceled plans about the protections that are not included under those plans. Customers will also be notified that new options are available offering more coverage and in some cases, tax credits to cover higher premiums."
So insurance companies that were canceling policies in compliance with Obamacare will now be blamed for failing to provide policies that probably no longer exist? Is it even feasible for these insurance providers to offer the same or similar plans to consumers who've already lost them?
In essence, it sounds as if insurance companies will be mandated to inform consumers about how awful their plans are and how wonderful the government's plan can be.
And what does this accomplish other than alleviating the political pressure today? Not much. At some point, these policies will be canceled, and private insurers will continue to abandon the individual marketplace.
We also learned that when it comes to Obamacare, process means nothing. Why does the president even bother signing laws passed by Congress if he can simply alter or ignore statuses within the legislation whenever the vagaries of politics demand it? Reading liberal pundits, it seems that if the core purpose has moral authority (the uninsured need help), anything goes when it comes to process. And when Nancy Pelosi was asked today what she made of the brouhaha surrounding Obamacare, she said: "We'll be good, we'll be good. We'll do what we have to do, and that's what we'll do." Indeed, they do. There are two legislative efforts underway to "fix" the core "incorrect truth" of Obamacare, so why do we need an administrative fix? If legislation was poorly written or unworkable, isn't fixing it a matter for Congress?
And Obama offered no answer for why he kept promising Americans that they could "keep their insurance if they liked it" long after he knew better. Though, he did point out that other Democrats were peddling the same line.
Finally, near the end of the news conference, the president made an interesting claim: Obamacare was really a choice driven by an incentive for stability, not disruption. "We chose a path that was the least disruptive," he said. Though pollsters rarely measure the importance of "stability" in American life, I think it's probably one of the most vital factors driving hostility toward Obamacare from independents and moderates. Everything about Obamacare implementation has created the perception of anarchy—the arbitrary implementation of laws, people losing the plans they have, the way it was passed and the problems it has caused in Washington—and this news conference only reinforced that perception.